SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CARPENTERS PENSION
Richard C. Blum,
The employee retirement income security act of 1974 (ERISA) states the following:
availability of documents and other important information
As a participant in the carpenters pension trust for southern California, you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the employee retirement income security act of 1974 (ERISA).
You can obtain copies of all plan documents and other plan information upon written request to the plan administrator.
In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the employees' benefit plan. The people who operate your plan, called "fiduciaries" of the plan, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of you and other plan participants and beneficiaries. No one, including your employer, your union, or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a pension benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA.
Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce your rights. For instance, if you request materials from the plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a federal court. In such case, the court may require the plan administrator to provide the materials and pay you up to $100 a day until you receive the materials.
If it should happen that plan fiduciaries misuse the plan's money, or if you
Are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. department of labor, or you may file suit in state of federal court
This is how the pension administrator, Ronald Schoen abides by these laws:
The following letter was sent to Ronald Schoen, pension trust administrator, Douglas j. Mccarron, general president of the carpenters union and chairman of the board of trustees for the pension trust, and Ronald tutor, co-chairman of the pension trust. The first two went out certified with return receipt requested!
November 5, 1998
Administrator, Carpenters Pension Trust
520 South Virgil Avenue, 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90020
I have been reviewing the Pension's decision to increase the active members' Pension check by $175 per year for those members who work over 1800 hours per year, with a retroactive payment for each year that the member worked over 1800 hours dating back to 1991.
I would like to know how the Pension came up with the 1800 hour figure. What type of research was done in order to figure that 1800 hours was the proper figure? In my experience as a Carpenter, I am clearly aware that the majority of Carpenters do not work over 1800 hours per year. In fact, the only members that can benefit from such an increase are the business agents, who work 2000 hours annually. Why is the retroactivity to 1991? How was this figure determined? And why is it that the currently retired members do not receive such a benefit? Why is their retroactivity only 5% for only 6 months?
I would like to see, in writing, how such a determination was made. Upon reviewing the decision, it appears that the benefits lack fairness and should undergo further review by the Pension Trustees.
Member, Carpenters Local 1506
PO Box 1780 Thousand Oaks, CA 91358
cc: Douglas McCarron, Chairman, Employee Trustee
Ronald N. Tutor, Co-Chairman, Employer Trustee
THE LETTER I SUBMITTED TO THE ADMINISTRATOR WAS REFUSED TO BE ACCEPTED AT THE PENSION TRUST.
How am I supposed to get any answer from them if they refuse my correspondence? I have issues that Im trying to straighten out! How dare he refuse my correspondence?!!
Is this intimidation? How many of you have had the same problem? Why aren't these people doing their jobs?
Mr. Tutor must have received the letter before Mr. Schoen. Don't tell me there hasn't been any communication between Schoen and him. (Keep in mind that it was Ronald Schoen that harassed an employee of the administration and called his wife an expletive, which, along with a long period of harassment, triggered a lawsuit that cost the carpenters $230,000!!).
COULD IT BE THAT JOHN DeCARLO, THE UNION'S LEGAL COUNSEL, TOLD MR.SCHOEN TO IGNORE MY LETTERS? COULD IT BE THAT MR. DeCARLO HAS JUST ABOUT HAD IT WITH GETTING MR.SCHOEN OUT OF HOLES THAT HE HAS DUG HIMSELF IN TO?!
And speaking of letters, I wrote to the president of my local union (and president of the southern California district council), Michael Mccarron, and asked him why Mr. Schoen had refused my certified letter. Instead of getting an answer from my union president, I got an answer from the union's legal counsel, john t. Decarlo. Why?! This isn't the first time that Ive received a letter from Decarlo after writing to a union official. Furthermore, I have had letters regarding union business, and have been told to correspond exclusively with Mr. Decarlo. Why is the union paying Mr. Decarlo to write letters?! Doesn't that become costly?! And what about the intimidation factor of receiving a letter from the union's counsel? Don't you think the union knows that a member is liable to get intimidated upon receiving a letter from the union's counsel?! And why don't the members have an attorney to write letters for them; why should the union leaders have that privilege? Why don't our leaders know how to write a letter? I want to hear from my union president, not from a high paid attorney. On top of not being elected to his current positions, Michael Mccarron doesn't even know how to write a letter to his members. These are the sad consequences of appointing family and buddies to high-paying, high-power union positions, rather than having fair elections. It is our duty as union members to let our fellow union brothers know about these intimidation tactics that are executed by the union against us.
It is crucial that they answer this letter and explain to the rank and file why they are not getting the huge pension increases, and why the management and the superintendents will be the ones to enjoy this increase. This needs to stop! It is a big scam! The rank and file is who keeps the union up and running.
THE JULY 1, 1998 PENSION BENEFIT INCREASE RESOLUTION
Carpenters Southern California Administrative Corporation 520 SOUTH VIRGIL AVENUE LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90020-1496 TELEPHONE: (213) 386-8590
To: Pre-1998 Retirees
FROM: Board of Trustees, Carpenters Pension Trust for Southern California
RE: Increases in Your Pension
DATE: July 1, 1998
Because of excellent investment results, your Board of Trustees is pleased to announce significant improvements in the pensions of Carpenters who retired on or before December 1, 1997, provided that they received a regular monthly payment as of July 1, 1998. Beneficiaries of pensioners who retired before 1998 or who began to receive benefits in 1997 or earlier will also be eligible for these increases. (Carpenters who retired before 1998 but who returned to work and did not receive a regular pension check as of July 1, 1998 should write the Trust Office to ask about special eligibility rules that apply). The improvements are as follows:
1998 Double Bonus Check. The pensioners and beneficiaries described above will receive a supplemental one-time check equal to twice your regular monthly payment. Because we plan to make this payment as soon as possible during July, and before the Trust Office can prepare and pay the 5% increase described below, the double bonus check will be based on the previous monthly benefit and will not reflect the 5% increase.
Example: John received his regular monthly payment of $500 on June 1, 1998 John will shortly receive his double bonus check in the amount of $1,000 (less withholding, if any).
5% Increase in Monthly Benefits. Your monthly payment will increase 5% retroactively to the beginning of this year. This means that your regular. August 1, 1998 check will be 5% greater. In order to prepare checks for the increased amount and to include the increase on the benefits already paid from January 1 through July, 1998, the August 1 benefit payment may be slightly delayed.
Example: John's regular gross monthly payment (before deductions and withholding, if any) for each of the months January through July, 1998 is $500. Effective with the August check, his regular monthly gross payment will increase to $525. The August check will also include an additional one-time payment of $175 (the $25 increase times seven for the months of January through July).
Details: Please note if your pension is based on the "Level Income Option", the increases will be based on the amount of your Early Retirement or Service Pension before adjustment for the option. If applicable, tax withholdings will apply to the supplemental amounts, but there will be no reductions to the supplemental benefits for medical coverage premiums or other regular "adjustments to check" amounts. Remember, these increases are meant for pre-1998 pensioners (or their beneficiaries or co-payees) who were on the pension roll to receive a regular monthly payment as of July 1, 1998. Retired Carpenters who received a one time lump sum payment are not entitled to these increases.
Special Note for
Pensioners who Retired before 1998 but Returned to Work:
If you retired before 1998 and did not receive the above increases because you were working and were not eligible for a regular pension check on July 1, 1998, you may be eligible for the increases for Active Participants described in a separate letter, if you meet certain conditions related to recent Covered Employment. If you do not qualify for the increases for Active Participants, you may still be eligible for the benefit increases for retirees - please write the Trust office.
We are glad that very favorable recent investment results experienced by your Trust Fund which may not occur again-have allowed these substantial increases. If you have any questions about these improvements in your pension benefits, please contact the Trust Office.
Board of Trustees
Carpenters Southern California Administrative Corporation 520 SOUTH VIRGIL AVENUE LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90020-1496 TELEPHONE:(213) 386-8590
Participants and Participants Retirees in l998
From: Board of Trustees, Carpenters Pension Trust for Southern California
Re: Benefit Increase
Date: July 1, 1998
In addition to retiree benefit increases (described in our separate letter to pre-1998 retirees), the Trust's excellent financial results have made it possible for your Board of Trustees to adopt the following major retroactive increases for eligible active participants.
is Eligible? You will be eligible for the increase below,
if you meet the following conditions:
* you completed at least 700 hours of Covered Employment in 1996 or 1997, and
* you retire during the first six months of 1998, or
* you complete at least 350 hours of Covered Employment in the second half of 1998.
Note: if you are one of the limited number of Carpenters who commenced a pension before 1998, but returned to work, you may be eligible for the benefit increase described below, if you work sufficient hours of Covered Employment in 1998 and meet certain other conditions. Please write the Trust Office for details.
What is the Increase? As you know, the Trust has determined your monthly pension credit based upon completed 100 hour units starting with a minimum of 700 hours of covered Employment and "maxing out" at 1800 hours per year. For the years 1991-95, a year of 1800 or more hours of Covered Employment added $70 to your monthly pension benefit, while for 1995 through the present, a year of 1800 or more hours added $100 to your monthly pension benefit. We are very pleased to announce this $70/$100 scale has been increased substantially and will now retroactively "max out" at $175 for years 1991 through 1998.
Increase in Benefit
Scale 1999 - 2002
Effective January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2002, the scale will "max out" at $120 for all participants in Covered Employment. After 2002, the scale will revert to a maximum of $70, subject to increase for favorable experience (Please note that, although it has never occurred, the Board reserves the right to reduce the scale of benefits prospectively, for future credits only, in the event of severe changes in the financial conditions of the Trust such as a major market correction).
Table of Increased Benefit Units
If you are eligible
as described above your Pension benefit will be determined using the following sliding
scale, based upon your hours worked in Covered Employment in 1991, through December 31,
Annual Hours 1991-1998 1999-2002
Under 700 None None
700 $68.06 $46.67
800 77.78 53.33
900 87.50 60.00
1000 97.22 66.67
1100 106.94 73.33
1200 116.67 80.00
1300 126.39 86.67
1400 136.11 93.33
1500 145.83 100.00
1600 155.56 106.67
1700 162.28 113.33
1800 & over 175.00 120.00
Note: if any of the
foregoing benefit increases would cause a participant's pension benefit to exceed the
Federal limits on the maximum amount of benefits allowed, the increase shall be applied
only to the extent permitted by the limitation.
We are glad that very favorable investment results which may not occur again have allowed these substantial increases. Please call the Trust Fund Office if you have any questions about these improvements in your pension benefits.
NOTE THAT IN THE JULY 1, 1998 BENEFIT INCREASE LETTER, IT STATES THE FOLLOWING:
"...Although it has never occurred, the Board reserves the right to reduce the scale of benefits prospectively, for future credits only, in the event of severe changes in the financial conditions of the Trust such as a major market correction."
All members keep this in mind for the future: your benefits might be in jeopardy! And remember, we have always had high wage scale and good benefits. Mccarron did not bring any of these things, however, he did bring work preservation (80%decrease of wage scale).
Keep in mind that our u.s. senator, Dianne Feinstein, who has received very large contributions from Doug "CEO" McCarron, is the wife of financial advisor to the pension trust, Richard c. Blum, who is currently being paid over $3million a year.
Richard C. Blum, Diane Feinsteins Husband was paid $7,788,567.00 for the year of 1997 for " Investment Consultant. He was paid more than 12 other organizations including John T. Decarlo combined.
DOES OUR U.S. SENATOR HAVE INFLUENCE IN THE COURTS SO THAT WORKERS PETITIONS CAN BE DENIED BY JUDGES WHO ARE HER BUDDIES? IT IS ALL A CONFLICT OF INTEREST. THE UNION BUYS POLITICAL INFLUENCE WITH OUR MONEY. THE AMOUNTS OF POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS MADE ARE OBSCENE!
On June 2, 1997, a resolution was presented at the regular meeting of the carpenters local #944. This resolution was presented to the membership by two of the members, a former financial secretary of local #944, and a former business representative of local #235. This resolution was passed, moved, seconded, and concurred to send it to all local unions within the southern California/Nevada regional council of carpenters and the trustees of the carpenters pension trust fund in Los Angeles for action of concurrence.
The request was
signed by Loni Ballantyne, financial secretary of local #944,
and V.H. Formway, president of local #944.
This resolution, of course, was not approved by either jams Bernsen, secretary treasurer of the district council, or the vice president, Jackie Barnett sr., both of whom are McCarron's puppets. Bernsen makes over $120,000 a year, plus benefits, such as a company car and expense account, not to mention two pensions. Bernsen never worked with the tools of the trade. Jackie Barnett is just another yes man. He has relatives working in the district council and in his local. How can these two characters possibly vote for something to favor the retirees?
HERE ARE SOME OF THE POINTS ON THE RESOLUTION:
-From 1974 to 1996 (22 years), the retirees have received two 5% raises, and four thirteenth checks. The thirteenth check is just a way to fool the retiree, making him think Trust Fund is doing them a favor. Well they are not, and here is why!
-The inflationary rate over the last 22 years has averaged approximately 3% per year. For the last 22 years, it has reduced the purchasing power of the people on a pension by 66%. Therefore, they have lost over half the amount that they received in their pension benefit.
-From the assets that have accumulated from their contributions to a healthy figure of 1.4 billion dollars, they asked the trustees and management to grant an increase. The minimum amount to be no less than $200, retro-active to the first of the year. This amount would only make up for a portion of the money they have lost, due to inflation and any additional amount they might consider adding, would help.
-They proposed that the annual cost of living clause be incorporated into the pension distribution formula. This amount would have been established by the actual inflationary rate of the previous year and would have been distributed the following year based on the amount each retiree receives.
Instead of passing this, they gave themselves a raise. For anyone working over 1800 hours a year, the new pension rate is $175.00
Who actually works 1800 hours a year? They do, the management, the business representatives, the very people who already make over $100,000 a year! Plus, all of the fringe benefits, which add up to over $25,000 a year, along with their two pensions. I ask the rank and file: is this union a democracy or are we being taken for a ride with our hard earned money?
Only 10% of the employed rank and file members work 1800 a year. Of that 10%, the majority are the foremen and superintendents of the large companies. If you check out the pension history of the management and so-called leaders, you can see that every year they work over 1800 hours.
The biggest joke of all is the 5% increase, retroactive at the beginning of this year. And the other joke is the $175.00 extra that current workers receive after they retire for every year that they worked over 1800 hours, retroactive from 1991 to the present day. The only guys working over 1800 hours are the business representatives! They're the ones benefiting from this! The retirees and the workers don't matter to these people, they just take care about their own pockets!
WHAT ARE DECARLO, CONNOR SELVO DOING FOR US?!
What about the legal fees Decarlo collects from the pension trust and the health and welfare, which add up to over $1,000.000 per year?! Most of the time he is being paid to represent the pension against the members when they are claiming their benefits. In how many cases has Decarlo represented a rank and file member?!
We're paying for attorneys to represent McCarrons interests in illegal activities, such as forcing non-union companies to pay prevailing wages to non-journeymen workers; criminal activities, such as defending mercenaries from Mexico; or representing people like the current administrator, Ronald Schoen, when he harasses workers. Do you think this is just?
In accordance to code 29 USC 1021 and 1024, I asked the administrative corporation to let me see their most recent IRS returns. They file an 1120 form for non-profit corporations. Decarlo's answer to my request was declined. Is this why we pay Decarlo and his attorneys? This is proof of how little say so the union member has within the union. The administration receives $1.5 million from the carpenters pension trust, and another $1.5 million from the health and welfare, in order to run the administration. We pay for that!!! Shouldn't we know what our money is paying for?!!
McCarrons main interest is to have total control of all the local union's pension funds. He'll even fire any representative that dares to stand up for the working man.
What happened in the 42l with the pension fund when he took over? Why is McCarron a trustee of the 42l's pension trust? Who elected him to this position? When will 42l hold elections? It has been a year since he took over and elections for new delegates should have been held by now, according to the constitution. And where are all the new constitution books? Haven't they printed enough to give to the members since the constitution was changed in 1992. Don't tell me they can't pay the printer, or are they just keeping them from us?! Why hasn't Decarlo spoken up to request this for the members?! Isn't he willing to stand up for the rights of the very workers that pay his salary?!!
Where is the
department of labor-pension and welfare division?!! We don't want to know how legal all
this is, we want to know how far this discrimination can go?!!!